In his wholly engaging foray into urban spatial crimes, A Burglar's Guide to the City, BLDGBLOG author Geoff Manaugh offers a close-up look into the often-unseen connection between architecture and burglary. Covering a wide range of subjects related to burglary, including (in)famous crimes, getaways, risk factors, evasion techniques, architectural design, security, historical precedents, legal definitions, and tools of the trade, Manaugh captures the mystery, intrigue, and science of his topic quite well. With obvious enthusiasm and curiosity, Manaugh's research took him to both ends of the burglary spectrum (from federal law enforcement to reformed criminals) in his quest to discover and understand the relationship between architecture, spatial design, and burglary. Enticing and often absorbing, A Burglar's Guide to the City holds a magnifying lens above the urban milieu, revealing an entire world of architectural vulnerability, spatial puzzles, and negligent design overlooked by most (law-abiding) city-dwellers; a veritable second city oblivious to most, yet offering treasures (both literal and metaphorical) to those observant enough to know what they're looking at (or for). Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The city seen from a unique point of view: those who want to break in and loot its treasures
At the heart of Geoff Manaughs A BURGLARS GUIDE TO THE CITY is an unexpected and thrilling insight: the city as seen through the eyes of robbers. From experts on both sides of the law, readers learn to understand the city as an arena of possible tunnels and picked locks—and architecture itself as an obstacle to be outwitted and second-guessed.
From how to pick locks (and the tools required) to how to case a bank on the edge of town, readers will learn to spot the vulnerabilities, blind spots, and unseen openings that surround us all the time. This simultaneously allows us to view the city—from specific buildings and individual rooms to whole neighborhoods—through the privileged eyes of FBI investigating agents and security consultants, people dedicated both to solving and to preempting these attempts at devious entry.Full of absurd and marvelous stories of heists and capers, A BURGLARS GUIDE TO THE CITY offers a kind of criminal X-ray of our built environment, Never again will readers enter a bank without imagining the vault geometry, or visit a museum without plotting ways to bring their favorite painting home with them.
Architecture blogger Manaugh (The BLDGBLOG Book) turns the building world inside out in this fascinating view of the modern city as seen through the eyes of a potential burglar. Noting that “burglary requires architecture” he shows how burglars deconstruct a seemingly stable building environment into a “Matrix space... of dissolving and pop up entryways through to other worlds.” They not only navigate air ducts elevator shafts and rooftops to gain access to interiors but sometimes turn regulations intended to safeguard buildings into break in blueprints. Observing that “cities get the type of crime their design calls for” Manaugh shows how Los Angeles’s freeway system facilitates the “stop and rob” bank heists that made it “the bank robbery capital of the world” in the 1990s and how in the late ’80s one enterprising gang of crooks used the city’s storm sewer system to tunnel into a bank vault and nab millions in loot. Manaugh supports his analyses of these weak spots in urban architecture with abundant insights and observations from law enforcement officers security specialists and self identified burglars and laces the text with thrilling accounts of audacious burglaries. Readers of this illuminating study will never look at the buildings and cities they live in the same way. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"Murphy’s Law—anything that can go wrong will go wrong—is especially true for architecture. Geoff Manaugh’s liaisons with burglars and bank robbers reveal unexplored niches and loopholes in our cities, and through the eyes of urban hackers we find new possibilities for reinterpreting the built environment. A Burglar’s Guide to the City shows that architecture is too important to leave to just the architects." Bjarke Ingels, BIG Architects
"This is a marvelous wonder-room of a thing, an intricate, deeply researched, and brilliantly written mad scientist’s tour of crime and how it’s bound to the world we’ve built. Revealing, spectacular, and riveting." Warren Ellis, author of Gun Machine and The Planetary Omnibus
"Who knew urban studies could be so riveting? Geoff Manaugh excels at finding new, illicit, and fresh angles on a subject as loved as it is overexposed—the city. In his new book, elegant, perverse, sinuous supervillains maneuver and master the city like parkour champions. I see the TV series already." Paola Antonelli, MoMA
"This burglar’s guide isn’t for ordinary smash and grab burglars, it’s for the rest of us—who like to steal in, steal out, and get away with glorious dreams. A spectacularly fun read." Robert Krulwich, co-host of Radiolab
About the Author
Geoff Manaugh is the founder of BLDGBLOG, one of the most popular architecture sites on the web, and the current editor of Gizmodo, the Gawker empires super-popular gadget/technology blog.